Welcome back to the big time, Oregon. Oh, wait. Nix that thought.
One huge step for the Pac-12. One giant leap of joy for SEC haters everywhere.
Hold that thought.
Just when it seemed 11th-ranked Oregon would guide the Pac-12 out of the power football wilderness, Auburn stormed back.
Bo Nix is a true freshman. And, like his dad a quarter of a century ago, he is already part of Auburn history.
Nix’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with 9 seconds remaining proved the game winner as 16th-ranked Auburn defeated Oregon 27-21 in Dallas.
This one seemed unlikely.
Down 21-6 in the third quarter, Auburn stormed back to close within two points just under 10 minutes remaining. After dialing in a two-point conversion attempt to tie, Gus Malzahn had to reconsider after a false start. He opted to kick. The decision did not prove costly.
That’s because of his unnatural freshman. Nix lead Auburn to three touchdowns in the final 19-plus minutes to pull out a most improbable victory.
A year ago, Auburn took on a Pac-12 favorite and pulled a win out. But 2019 Oregon isn’t 2018 Washington. They are much, much better. This victory will resonate.
Oregon boasts the most experienced offensive line in football and a quarterback, Justin Herbert, who bypassed a likely first-round slot in the NFL draft for another year in Eugene. Auburn’s Nix bypassed the Senior Prom at Pinson Valley to enroll early at Auburn. He’s not your typical true freshman.
Saturday night wasn’t about the numbers. Nix completed just 13 of 33 passes for 177 yards. But he made big plays. More than anything, he looked like he belonged on the big stage every much as Herbert.
Give Auburn coach Gus Malzahn credit. Credit for naming Nix the starter. Credit for reclaiming autonomy of the offense. It took three quarters — and a heavy dose of Boobie Whitlow running — to find the rhythm.
But once found, Auburn was rocking.
And the freshman quarterback? He may be a rock star.